How prepaid prescriptions work
At LloydsPharmacy we aim to make life as easy as possible for our patients and customers. That means streamlining our prescription services, and making it simple and straightforward for you to get your medicines when you need them.
Certain people will only have to pick up prescriptions from time to time. Others, however, may need medicines on a more regular basis. If you are picking up more than one prescription per month, you could save money by applying for an NHS prescription prepayment certificate (PPC).
Read on to find out how prepaid prescriptions work, and how much money you could save.
What is a prepaid prescription?
A prepaid prescription is one that you pay for in advance. In England, prepaid prescriptions can be obtained using a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC). The basic idea is that you make a one-off payment for future NHS prescriptions that covers you for any medicines you will need over a set period of time.
A prepay prescription scheme is beneficial because it can save you money on the cost of your medicines, and because it tends to be more convenient. Instead of paying each time you pick up your medicine from the pharmacy, you can simply display your PPC card.
You can apply for a prepaid prescription plan lasting either three or 12 months. Within that period you can obtain as many NHS prescriptions as you need – simply walk in with your prescription, request your medication and show the pharmacist your card.
You can also use your card with our Echo by LloydsPharmacy repeat NHS prescription delivery service. When you request your first prescription through your online account or in the app you’ll be asked to upload a photo of your pre-payment certificate. To find out more click here.
Bear in mind that you cannot use a PPC card to pick up private prescriptions as these are not covered by the NHS.
How much do prepaid prescriptions cost?
The purpose of prepaid prescriptions is to make NHS medicines more affordable for people who take medication regularly. There are two options:
- A three-month card, priced at £29.65
- A 12-month card, priced at £105.90
If you wish to apply for a three-month PPC card, you will have to make a one-off payment of £29.65 (which can be done by credit card, debit card, cheque, postal order or in cash at a pharmacy till).
If you wish to apply for a 12-month PPC card, you can make a one-off payment or set up a Direct Debit. If you opt for a Direct Debit, you will have 10 instalments of £10.59 taken from your account over the 12-month period. This is particularly convenient if you anticipate renewing your PPC at the end of the year, as normally the Direct Debit will automatically renew your plan and your Direct Debit payments will continue.
How much money can I save?
The amount of money you can save with prepaid prescriptions depends upon how many prescriptions you require each month.
Currently, prescriptions in England are charged at £9.15 per item. If you are picking up one prescription with one item per month, you will be spending £27.45 over three months and £110.16 over 12 months. In this case, you will not save any money by prepaying.
Prepaid prescription plans start saving you money when you are picking up more than one item each month.
If you pick up two prescription items per month, you can save over £113.70 a year (with a 12-month PPC) and over £25 within a three-month period (with a three-month PPC).
If you pick up four prescription items per month, you can save over £333 a year (with a 12-month PPC) and over £80 within a three-month period (with a three-month PPC).
A key consideration before you commit to a PPC card is your eligibility for free prescriptions.
How do I apply for prepaid prescription certificate?
One of the easiest ways to organise your prepaid prescriptions is to apply online here. You will have to decide:
- Whether you want to apply for three or 12 months of prescriptions
- When you want your prepayment to begin (i.e. today or up to one month before or after today
You can pay by credit or debit card, and you can also set up a Direct Debit if you have opted for the 12-month plan.
If you don’t want to apply online you can apply by post. You can download the relevant form here, or pick one up from a pharmacy or doctor’s surgery. Payment can be made with cheque or postal order, or a Direct Debit if you are applying for a 12-month PPC.
Completed forms should be sent to:
NHS Business Services Authority
152 Pilgrim Street
Newcastle Upon Tyne
Two alternative methods for applying include calling the PPC order line on 0300 330 1341 (with your bank or credit card to hand) or taking your completed form into a participating pharmacy. If you pay for your PPC at a pharmacy, you will not be able to set up a Direct Debit.
When applying for your prescription card, you will be given the option of selecting a start date. You can have your PPC card made valid from the day you order it, or alternatively you can choose a start date up to one month before or after the day your pay for it.
If you decide to backdate your PPC card you will be able to claim a refund on prescriptions you ordered within the period covered by your new card, provided you have a FP57 refund form. You will also be able to claim refunds on any prescriptions purchased while you are waiting for your PPC card to arrive.
Do I qualify for free prescriptions?
One thing to check before you apply for a prepaid prescription card is whether you qualify for free prescriptions. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all prescriptions are free, so you may only require a PPC if you live in England.
You are eligible to receive free prescriptions in England if you are:
- Receiving prescribed contraceptives (which are free to everyone)
- Under 16
- 16 to 18 and in full-time education
- 60 or over
- A new mother (you have had your baby in the past year)
- Exempt from paying because of a specific medical condition
- Physically disabled and unable to go out without help from another person
- Receiving income support or Jobseeker’s Allowance
- A war pensioner
You should always double-check your eligibility for free prescriptions before committing to a prepaid prescription plan.
Using your Prepaid Prescription Card
Once you have your PPC card you can use it as many times as you need to within the valid period. Just remember to bring it with you whenever you visit the pharmacy to collect your medication.
If you’d like to use your PPC and have your NHS repeat prescription delivered to your home, you can. With Echo by LloydsPharmacy you simply upload your evidence of your exemption on to your online or in-app account. To find out more click here.
How do I renew my prepaid prescription plan?
Prepayment prescription renewal is simple if you are using the 12-month plan and paying with a Direct Debit. Upon expiry, your PPC will normally automatically renew, with payments continuing to leave your account.
If you are not paying by Direct Debit you can go through the normal application process again. While you are waiting to receive your new prepaid prescription card, you are eligible for refunds for any prescriptions you have to collect.
Ask your pharmacist for an FP57 refund form when you pay for your prescription. When you receive your PPC card, don’t forget to take your refund forms to your local pharmacy, within three months of receiving your card.
What if I lose or damage my prepaid prescription card?
Once you’ve received your PPC card you should make an effort to keep it safe and on hand for when you need to use it.
In the event that you lose or damage your PPC card, you can apply for a replacement. You should receive a new one within 10 working days. While waiting for your replacement card, make sure that you keep track of any prescriptions you have paid for as you can claim a refund once your new card arrives.
What if I don’t need prepaid prescriptions anymore?
If you’ve paid for a PPC but no longer have use for it, you may be eligible for a full or partial refund, however refunds are usually only for very specific reasons. Click here to read about the circumstances under which a refund is available.